No thanks to pent up demand from COVID-19 construction delays, securing a new HDB flat has never been more challenging, with anecdotal stories of couples trying (and failing) to receive a queue number after multiple failed attempts frequently making their rounds on social media.
Amid such a backdrop of perpetually oversubscribed sales launches, it becomes even more critical to understand the HDB ballot system, strategise on which project and flat type to pick, and make full use of the various priority schemes.
This article outlines what aspiring homeowners can do to give themselves the best shot at owning a new HDB flat – in the shortest amount of time.
If you are interested to learn more about the HDB buying process – including calculating affordability, maximising grants available, and planning your property financing, you are invited to attend this upcoming free webinar.
#1 Pick Your Battles Carefully (And Be Prepared to Book a Flat When Invited to Do So)
In March 2023 during the Ministry of National Development (MND) Committee of Supply Debate, it was announced that HDB will tighten the rules for non-selection of flats. These changes will take place from the August 2023 sales launch onwards.
This means that if you are a first-timer who successfully received invitation to book a HDB flat, you must do so, otherwise you will be considered a second-timer in future ballots for a period of one year. This is lowered from the previous two counts.
For second-timers who fail to book a flat when invited to do so, they will need to wait for one year before being able to apply for new HDB flat again. This has been lowered from the previous two counts.
Recognising that this might be onerous to applicants who are at the back of the ballot queue and are left with very limited (and undesirable) units, HDB has stated that they will waive this non-selection count for applicants with ten or less BTO flats to choose from, or five or less SBF flats to choose from.
Given that a large majority of flats in each sales launch are typically reserved for first-timers, you should carefully guard your first-time status, and only apply for a project that you are truly interested in and are prepared to book the flat if given the opportunity.
#2 Demand vs Supply: Look at Application Rates and Plan Strategically
HDB releases detailed information about applications received during each sales launch, including specifics like applicants for each flat size, and number of first-timers vs second-timers, and so forth.
Once applications for each sales launch have opened, you can take a look at this data to gauge the popularity of each project and/or flat size. To increase your chances of securing a flat as soon as possible, you may wish to consider less popular projects.
Obviously, there will be a group of people who – like you – have chosen to only make their flat applications at the last moment, in hopes of making their applications decision with as much information as they can realistically have, so do not be surprised if you see a suddenly spike in applications as the application deadline approaches.
#3 Utilise The Priority Schemes to Maximise Your Chances
The HDB website lists at least eight different priority schemes that eligible applicants can make use of. For each application, you can apply under up to two of these priority schemes that you are eligible for.
From the August 2023 sales launch, a new priority scheme category will be added, First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples).
Proportions of flats during each sales launch are set aside for various priority schemes, so you should familiarise yourself with all of these priority schemes, and make full use of them during your flat application process.
Doing so will give you the best chance at securing a ballot number, and bring you one step closer towards being a homeowner.
To find out more about these schemes and eligibility criteria, do join us for this upcoming webinar on buying your first HDB flat. Registration is free, so feel free to invite your significant other and friends!